Twins-Yankees Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)
The Associated Press

The New York Yankees were shut down by a pitcher who had the second-worst ERA in the major leagues in their series opener with the Minnesota Twins.

They'll try to bounce back against the only pitcher with a higher one.

After going down quietly against Ricky Nolasco, New York faces Kevin Correia as it sends out Masahiro Tanaka at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.

The Yankees (28-25) closed their nine-game road trip by taking four of the last five but were baffled Friday by Nolasco, who lowered his ERA from 6.12 to 5.70 with six innings of one-run ball in a 7-1 victory. Minnesota had dropped six of seven coming in.

''A hard six innings,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said after Nolasco ended his six-start winless streak. ''It's never easy against these guys.''

The light-hitting Twins (25-27) also pounded Vidal Nuno, getting home runs from Oswaldo Arcia, Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe. Texas and Kansas City were the only AL teams to enter Friday with fewer homers than the Twins' 39.

''That's a big difference for us, two guys in the middle of our order,'' Plouffe said of Willingham and Arcia, both of whom returned to the Twins on Monday.

Arcia is batting .367 during a seven-game hitting streak.

Next up is Correia (2-6, 6.34 ERA), whose ERA is last among qualifying players. The right-hander didn't pitch badly in his last outing Monday, going seven innings and allowing four runs, but suffered a 7-2 loss to Texas.

Correia would love to get the kind of offensive support Nolasco did, as he's received two or fewer runs in three of his last four outings.

The Yankees had scored at least six runs in three of the final four games on the trip before leaving nine on base Friday.

"You just come back tomorrow and hopefully we can start swinging the bats a little bit better, and scoring some runs," shortstop Derek Jeter told the team's official website. "It's obviously a lot easier on the pitching staff if we score."

Tanaka (7-1, 2.29) received plenty of support in his last outing, a 7-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday in which he pitched 6 2-3 innings, giving up one run and five hits while striking out six and walking two. The right-hander bounced back from his first major league loss five days earlier.

He'll be making his first career start against Minnesota.

New York's Kelly Johnson seems likely to be in the lineup Saturday, as he has five home runs in 28 career at-bats against Correia and is batting .321 in their matchups.

The Yankees got back first baseman Mark Teixeira, who had sat out the previous three games with inflammation in his surgically repaired right wrist. He went 0 for 1 and walked three times.

"I'll just stay on top of it. I have stayed on top of it up until now," Teixeira told the team's website beforehand. "The next time it flares up, maybe take a day. Hopefully it doesn't turn into three. Sometimes taking a day when you first feel it will keep you from having to miss three. That's the goal."

Teixeira is batting .374 with 20 home runs and 58 RBIs in 66 career games against Minnesota.

Willingham is 4 for his last 9, while teammate Danny Santana is 4 for 6 in the past two.

New York is 31-10 in its last 41 games against Minnesota in the Bronx, but has won just six of the past 13 between the teams there.

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